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Henry Wiencek Education. (2012) 'Master of the Mountain Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves.'

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Monticello 34, Washington 9, Randolph 9, Louisiana 7, United States 7, Thomas Jefferson 6, Mr. Jefferson 6, France 6, Virginia 6, Philadelphia 5, Henry Wiencek 4, Europe 4, Us 4, America 4, Billy 3, Charlottesville 3, Isaac 3, Paris 3, Huckleberry Finn 2, Bancroft 2,
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  CSPAN    Book TV    Henry Wiencek  Education.  (2012) 'Master of  
   the Mountain Thomas Jefferson and His Slaves.'  

    November 22, 2012
    6:45 - 7:59pm EST  

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and prior to lincoln's nomination for the presidency was by far the most notable of all non-republican in the country. now finally, here i am, ready to start. >> from the jefferson library in monticello, historian henry wiencek examines thomas jefferson's relationship to slavery. he thought financial gain when the americans third president called fat profits for the author utilized ideological findings at jefferson state monticello and jefferson's papers in his research. this is just over an hour. >> i will speak this afternoon is henry wiencek will be talking about his book, "master of the
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mountain: thomas jefferson and his slaves." it is a subject, which the thomas jefferson foundation has been a pioneer in researching and present a largely the collected essays published earlier this year by the university of virginia press. they're entitled by virtue my happiness, slavery of thomas jefferson's monticello is regarded as an authority on the subject. the book was released to coincide with an exhibit on slavery of monticello in the smithsonian national museum of african american history which is co-curated by the staff of the thomas jefferson foundation. 70 of the descendents of those commemorated attended the opening night.
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after 50 years of archaeological and historical research, thomas jefferson foundation is now in the next phase of interpretation and restoration project funded by the national endowment of humanities by private reports that the project is called the landscape of slavery, mulberry road in monticello, which includes creation of many exhibits, key sites, a website computer animations. the people held in slavery at monticello, images of only seven than in women survive. but all of the names are preserved. nevertheless, for many years the human dimension was missing from these accounts. in 1993, historians of monticello started a oral
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history project to fill in the missing human dimension. next february, monticello, with participation from northern and university of telling the history of slavery, scholarship inseam interpretation and the public. these activities represent by monticello is regarded as the best documented, the best preserved and the best studied in north america. furthermore by presenting the history of enslaved people whose individuals with particular stories and life, monticello hopes to humanize and it did to shun mostly been presented an abstraction without details on individuals and families. for those of you are interested in more information, we encourage you to look at our
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website, www..monticello.auric, which includes video of current descendents talking about their own lines and their relationship to monticello. it is thanks to the remarkable resources at the thomas jefferson foundation devoted to research that i first met henry wiencek. here the jefferson library, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary as the only library dedicated to one of the founding fathers. henry is an independent scholar. he's also known to many of us here in the audience who write on plantation society missed out in his last book was on george washington and slavery, entitled, an imperfect guide, which was published in 2003.
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at the end of his talk, he will be taking questions and we be available to sign copies of this book in the gallery. please join me in welcoming, henry wiencek. [applause] >> thank you, andrew. i very much appreciate your remarks in his homecoming for me because i spent many months upstairs and down the hall when i had a fellowship here to begin my research on the boat. i'm extremely grateful to andrew for all the aid he has lent me in support and also to dian jordan from a former executive at her and leslie bowman, current executive dirt for their support in the past into the present. this is a magnificent resource in the standard set of monticello is perhaps the
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leading public history study of slavery in the united states. the study of that subject is really very difficult for a number of reasons. one is that it's so hard to get the documents in the other is a psychological impediments that we americans have that best described by the theologian who also happens to be the father of my editors said americans by her own traditions of the most innocent people on earth. we never do anything wrong as a people and as a country. so becomes difficult for us to learn anything from the past because there was never any right and wrong. we always come out innocent. so when one encounters a phenomenon such as slavery, which seems so palpably evil, we have to find some way to deal with it a leadership happened
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with paradox, which means we suspend all judgment and say we just can't figure out the people of that time. i mentioned i was spending many months upstairs pouring over documents, published and unpublished, about monticello and jefferson's relationship with an in getting more and more confused. one of the best known slave no more as we have was written by -- spoken by the blacksmith, isaac ranger. i studied him in great detail and in a couple of cases he mentions jefferson was a good master and jefferson's son-in-law, who ran things around here when jefferson was away, was in charge, kind of an accident overseer. colonel randolph and going through the records i found that colonel randolph when he was strapped for cash, took isaac's
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daughter, maria and salted -- soldier to an overseer who took the young girl away to kentucky and she was never seen again. now, isaac did mention that in his memoir. why? i really don't know. maybe he told his interviewer and the interviewer to want to write it down. maybe isaac did what to say anything about hurt feelings of a white. maybe it hasn't left an impression on you just don't know and it leads like you guys had a lot of music that we really don't know and that the psychological, possible psychological distortions that took place under slavery is something we are still wrestling with. another person's memoirs are spent a lot of time with were those of peter fossae.
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he left to memoirs. he gave new super entities in the late 1800 -- 1800s rather. he was born here and was one of the slaves in the action of mr. jefferson slaves after mr. jefferson's death. his father was joseph faucette, the chief blacksmith your monticello and his mother, edith was mr. jefferson's cook. so this is a very high status family. i have been spending a lot of time reading his memoirs in trying to glean as much information as they could from them. it was one hot afternoon i decided to get out of this place to go to the mountain and wander around as i often did, looking at the house and mingling with the tourists, trying to get a sense of the place all over again because the place is very important to my writing. as it turned out, the tour guide was just beginning a talk in mulberry row about peter fossae at. she began telling the story
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about how he was sold at auctions at age 11 and someone who promised peter's father he would release him in a few years it chose to raise enough money because joseph was one of the few slaves free in jefferson's well. josette worked very hard to raise the money. but then the master broke the deal. he broke his promise and peter was to be condemned to slavery by what a friend described as the night he would sneak out and hide any testing cabin and height are the embers of the dying fire. he taught himself to read and write and in so doing taught himself to write fake emancipation documents. at that point in the story, suddenly a thunderstorm going to monticello not top and the guy
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looked around and said if anybody scared of the storm, you can leave then went to the otago. but having heard the beginning of the narrative, nobody left. they were really, really great. so she went on to say he produced fake emancipation documents that allowed his sister and others to escape virginia and then he decided to write a fake emancipation paper for her. so he right away but was caught, brought back to charlottesville and tried it again. he said i was determined to get free or die in the attempt. so he went away again was caught in the same as owner decided to dispose of them, turn them over to richmond traders, where he was brought in handcuffs. as the recon for the second time in my life was put on the auction block and sold like a horse. but when his friends and charlottesville found out about this, they raised money to buy him under slavery.
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they sent him to ohio as a free man where he became a minister, businessmen and smuggler fugitives in the underground. in his old age he had one wish left, which was to come back to monticello, which led to this memory as an earthly paradise. so he came back your walk to the top of the mountains, with a group of tourists was standing. to me that story had always been to try and of the human spirit. i heard a different element to it that day, the afternoon with a tour guide mentioned that he was sold at age 11. fossett remained asleep for another 24 years and when visitors heard that, they gasped. they couldn't get over it because they are just learned about the courage and your achievements of this man and they couldn't believe such a person would be held in slavery. it really tore their sense of
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justice. that was something i'd never thought thought of before. i had read that story, but i'd never heard it. it was only when outsiders who weren't soaked in the monticello words i was at her day, that basic human element came out. i began to wonder, why did jefferson see these people as fully human? i was one of the major contradictions that propelled by research. what i discover is that jefferson appears to be a man of contradictions. but when you do something rather simple, which is to put them on a timeline and examine all the actions in an excellent chronological order, sir patterns emerge and think simultaneously get more complicated, but a lot simpler and we are actually dealing with two jeffersons. there is a young jefferson, who was a fiery, radical emancipation is an older
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jefferson who embrace slavery. the young jefferson oddly enough has not been studied all that much. as a newly minted member, he made a proposal to emancipate slaves in virginia. he made it on the fly, shielding his identity using a relative to submit the bill quashes a good thing because his relative was announced as an enemy of his country and the bill was summarily dismissed. but later under his own name, jefferson floated a more explicit plan, one that i'd have changed the course of our history. ..
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oddly enough friends was the key to understanding the transformation in jefferson. when we think of france, we think of sally and james hemings and we think of french food. jefferson was getting to know french architecture and wind that he went over there on very important national business. he was there as our trade representative. we were desperate for money. we owed a lot of money, the u.s. owed an enormous debt to britain and their most important export was a slave raised crop. it was tobacco which brought in some $30 million a year. now, jefferson had one problem.
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the most important and influential friend he had import among the french aristocrats were all abolitionists and they couldn't understand how we could flog award for universal liberty without freeing the slaves and they put him under tremendous pressure. they kept asking him, when is america going to free the slaves? he began making promises that emancipation was really just around the corner. he was m&m. we are just waiting for white opinions to ripen. none of this was really true but it was in our interest for him to say that. but oddly enough jefferson really did absorb some of this radical feeling and before he left, heat set down a plan and told people about it. he told thomas paine and told william short and a number of other abolitionists over there that when he got back to america he was going to train the slaves and settle them on the land as sharecroppers in the certainty that they would become good
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citizens and free people in the united states. but when he got back to the united states things change. he came back with his daughter, patsy, and it turned out she needed a dowry because she met her cousin, thomas mann rand all that i mentioned before and they decided to get married in a hurry and the only way that jefferson could set them up in the household was to give them land and of course a lot of slaves. he wrote down that he would give his daughter 25 slaves, little and big. the other thing is that he began to think of rebuilding monticello and he needed money for this and he also needed to rely on a retrained slave force and people that he had formerly announced as childlike -- suddenly he called upon them to acquire a vast array of skills which they did very, very
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quickly. so when i was following jefferson through the documents along my own timeline, i came across a document that had disturbed many people since i put it in print but not as much as it disturbed me when i found it. in a detailed financial memo to a british agricultural experts jefferson was counting off the profits and losses of virginia plantations when it suddenly occurred to him that there was a phenomenon which he had received at monticello but had never actually measure. he proceeded to tabulated in a scribbled note in the middle of the page enclosed in brackets. what jefferson realized for the first time that he was making a 4% profit every year on the birth of black children. the enslaved people were yielding him a bonanza, a perpetual human dividend at compound interest. jefferson wrote, i love nothing but on the contrary shall take credit for% for year for their increase over and above keeping
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up their own numbers. the plantation was producing inexhaustible human assets. the percentage was predictable. to me this was a stunning and even frightening discovery. no one as far as i could tell among the jefferson scholars have ever mentioned it. i thought it might be an outlier, an isolated document, an isolated mathematical demonstration from the sort that jefferson often like to do but no. in a subsequent letter jefferson took the 4% formula further and quite bluntly advanced the notion that slavery presented the investment strategy prescription. hero to an acquaintance who was suffering financially, he wrote back to an acquaintance who had lost money, quote you should have invested in slaves. devices that are french -- cash-strapped every part should be laid out in land which brings a silent profit of five to 10% in this country by the increase in their value.
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unite -- might not grasp a world where a man can own his own siblings but silent profit are things we can recognize. from that moment in jefferson's life everything changed and the slaves were doomed. a startling statistic emerged in the 1970s -- when economist took a hard look at slavery and they found on the eve of the civil war enslaved black people in the aggregate form the second most valuable asset in the united states. it was more valuable than ever of roads and banks combined and the only thing that was more valuable was the land of the united states. in the 1790s, we see the full emergence of jefferson's as a politician, the architect, engineer and entrepreneur of slavery. he diversified and industrialized slavery launching a nail factory, a textile factory, and as i mentioned before his slaves readily
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adapted to learning complex new skills. he had put all of this into operation by the mid-1790s when one of his old friends from france, a duke, came by and was astonished at how well the monticello machine worked and how he said the slaves were well fed and they were well treated and that jefferson was out supervising the harvest all by himself, all alone and he seemed to be taking direct control of everything. the duke could not restrain his admiration for what jefferson had done and it was an amazing thing to have accomplished so fast because when jefferson was in france he said the slaves were like children a could never learn anything complex. well now jefferson and the slaves together had overturned that. the slaves were clearly very competent so the question arises at -- is as the time to begin setting people free? well apparently not because jefferson now raised the objection that we cannot free slaves because we are we are
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afraid of the mixing of lead. the black lead will mix with a wide the white and at that point everything seemed to be totally unreal to the duke because he could look around and see that the racial mixing had already taken place. there were people on monticello whose skin was so light that you couldn't even tell that they were black people. and the roster of skills that these people had acquired is charlie extraordinary and ranging from plowmen and plow women to poopers, dyers, roofers, barbers, hairdressers, cabinetmakers, and later on some french visitors were amazed at the carriage that they were writing and a very elegant -- and he asked where it came from. jefferson said well my slaves did it. he couldn't get over that this had been manufactured by slaves. ironically the slaves that
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condemn themselves. the more skilled a the more valuable they became and the more they tightened the chains of their enslavement. with the machines functioning in equilibrium the owner would never dismantle it. jefferson pioneered something else. he pioneered the modernization of slaves, the financialization of slaves. another document that i came across which i hadn't commented on before was the fact that he financed the reconstruction of monticello partly through what we might call slave-equity loan. he put together 150 slaves and offer them as collateral to a dutch banking heiress that he had done business with when he was in france and said, would you take them as collateral for a loan and they said yes. so they open the -- the bank opened a 2000-dollar line of credit for jefferson at a philadelphia merchant house and that was the money he drew upon to buy the construction
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materials that went into monticello. now, the surface of slavery that the duke had seen was on the surface a very very gentile system but that was only the top slice of monticello that he was seating. the operation had a much fresher side to it farther down the mountain. jefferson hated conflict and dislike disliked having to punish people. in a fog of regret and denial hands over the whole business but throughout his plantation there runs a threat of indication that machine functions are carefully calibrated. jefferson said my first wish is that the laborers will be well treated and what it first glance appears to be an ironclad promise turns out to be just what jefferson says it is, a wish and as a qualifier. the second wish is that they may enable me to have that treatment continue by making as much as
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will admit it meaning that i will treat you well but if you do not produce enough there will be harsh measures. now jefferson's overseer, william page -- methods of control sparks a nerve and the judgment of white citizens page was a quote terror so colonel randolph who was running the operation informed jefferson that the slaves were discontented of pages free use of the lash. jefferson retained his man for another two years. jefferson's other son-in-law john wayles alluded to the public sentiment against him. when he saw to higher slaves, nobody would do business with him and apps wrote the terror of pages named prevented the possibility of hiring him. in this regard, in the 1950's, tiny fragment of information about the monticello system so shocked one one of jefferson's editors that he suppressed it from the record.
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until recently the standard source for our understanding of life and monticello has been the addition of jefferson's farm book edited in the 1950's by edwin bass. when best edited one of colonel randolph's plantation reports he confronted. randolph reported to jefferson that they naylor was functioning very well because quote the small ones were being whipped. they did not take willingly to being forced to show up in the icy midwinter hour before donna jefferson's nael -- said the overseer was whipping them quote for truancy. he decided the image of children being beaten had to be suppressed. the full text of not a merchant tell 2005 and it played an important role in shaping the consensus that jefferson managed his plantations with with the lenient hand. the management of plantations also had a psychological element. we often hear that jefferson encouraged his slaves with
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awards and incentives and that he wanted them to have, to display character. what character meant was not self-esteem which was dangerous for a slaves but it meant that you were docile. event that you did what you were told. and there was a wrenching story that colonel randolph had about a mormon just down the road from here, who was said to have a great deal of character. he was the one who is trusted by the master when anything important had to be done. he was trusted to handle money and go on important errands and was very highly-regarded but randolph got to know him and he found out that the secret behind his character was that he was terrified. he was terrified of being whipped and he informed the resolution never to do anything that would cause him to incur what he called --
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one day he apparently left some tools out in the field and to make an example of him the new overseer had him strip off his shirt and a with 10. the man was so humiliated that he hanged himself right in front of the master's house. this is the occasion for a long detailed, wrenching letter that colonel randolph wrote describing this man in glowing terms as a man of great courage and character and in this letter, randolph denounces what he calls the whole southern system is a hideous monster and describe something that is based totally on terror and not at all on this notion of character. he had nothing bad to say about the slaves but described him as showing great courage in going off to death instead of trying to run away. to go back for a moment to the timeline, there were two basic benchmark events in jefferson's
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public life that i look at as displaying really his shift from one type of politician and planter to another. jefferson, the younger radical, had written the terms of the ordinance of 1784 that would ban slavery in any new territory of the united states. this is what jefferson wrote. after the year 1800 there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude. now such a law would have put slavery on timetable. those who helped slaves would have had 16 years to figure a way out of it but the ordinance which would have included mississippi and alabama and we think of those two places being without slaves, failed to fail to pass the continental congress was just one delegate from new jersey missed the boat due to illness. jefferson himself wrote that millions unborn had bitten a term and by the absence of this one man. joyce appleby, the great
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historian commented on on the saying that after the 1784 limitation on slavery had failed, jefferson quote backed away from attacking the institution as his power to do something about it increased. the other benchmark that i would like to point out is the louisiana purchase. there was a great opening of the west and a great opening of the empire for liberty but when we acquired that territory there was a great debate in congress. should we have slavery and congress became very close to banning it and then passed restrictions that so outraged the slaveholders who were already there, they threatened secession and they threatened to call call the napoleon back in. people said if you don't allow slavery our lands will depreciate in value 50% and as all of this was going on -- it was a fresh moment. congress still have the will to restrict slavery here. jefferson sent a message to his floor manager in the senate
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saying, slaves should be admitted to the territory. and then he went on to aid in the creation of the legal system and bureaucracy that manage slavery in the new territories to the point where the historian robert nepali referred to him as the father of slavery in louisiana. so it was a far cry, only 20 years later from a man who tried to stop slavery from getting into the west to the man who helps to extend its reach into the new territory. i don't much like counterfactual's but i'm going to end with one anyway because i think this one really could have happened. there was an oral history that was recorded in the 1940s by a woman named pearl graham who was trying to find information about -- and she went to find as many descendents of monticello slaves
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as she could. she actually recorded a number of interviews. in one of them, person said something that was very striking. she said that -- no,, it was he, mr. jefferson misuse large sums of money that had been given him for the benefit of the negroes. when i first read this, it really didn't make any sense at all. i didn't know what he could be possibly talking about and i thought it was something that was made up like people who are just angry about slavery and wanted to get back a jefferson. but then i found out that it was true. visiting philadelphia one time i was wandering with my family through society hill and we came to a house with a plaque that said this was the townhouse where the great polish patriot he rode the american revolution thaddeus had lived. so we went in there and right at the front there is a brochure entitled precious go and
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jefferson. i didn't know they had much of her relationship at all but i opened it up and i found this to my surprise that he had written a will in which he left jefferson $20,000 to free as many monticello slaves as money could buy. and to give them land and give them livestock and pay for their transportation and education, transportation especially to someplace where some place where they could live undisturbed as free people. it's interesting, when this piece of information came out in the "smithsonian magazine" in the excerpt of the book of number people said to me that they had never heard of it. i said i have never heard of it either so i came across it in philadelphia. a couple of people had thoughts about this that really hadn't occurred to me. when you hope your book is being made into a movie you think who
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do you want to start at? people began to say i wonder whom he could have freed? people thought of john and priscilla hemings. you could say maybe he could have freed some of his farmers and then someone said fawcett. he could have freed joe faucet. joe was a blacksmith and the eddie was his cook and they had a whole bunch of children. and it turned out in the auction of jefferson's estate after the war, i mean after his death, joseph was the only one freed and jefferson left the rest of the family in slavery and they were scattered to different masters. joseph worked for 10 years trying to earn the money to buy back his old wife and all of his children and he managed -- one of his children escape from
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slavery but managed to get most of them back except -- whose owner would never give them up. joseph and edith had to leave charlottesville leaving peter behind and then they settled in ohio. it was only years later when peter was bought out of slavery by his own friends in charlotte bill that he was able to join them. i would like to conclude with kosciusko's language. this is what he wrote. the interesting thing about the jefferson drafted kosciusko as well. in 1795, kosciusko had finally gotten the payment that was coming to him for his service in the american revolution. he was a general of engineers under george washington and his as many of you know he resigned
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the fortifications at west point. his payment was very long-delayed and he finally got it in 1795. so in philadelphia he went to see his good friend jefferson and said, would you write a will with me? he may jefferson be executor. after they drafted the formal -- before they drafted the formal document kosciusko had written something out in his own hand, and i would like to read this to you in conclusion. i begged mr. jefferson that encase i should die without a will, he should lie out of my money so many negroes and free them that the remaining sums should be sufficient to give them education and provide for their means. that is to say, each should know beforehand the duty of a citizen in the free government that he must defend his country against foreign as well as internal -- to have good in human hearts, sensible for the sufferings of
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others. each one must be married and have 100 acres of land with cattle for tillage and know how to manage and govern as well as how to behave with neighbors, always with kindness and ready to help others. to their children, gifted education. i mean back to the hard into the duty of the country. kosciusko had only one request, to make the people he expected to free. ingratitude to mean to make themselves as happy as possible. it never happened. and i will stop there and i will be happy to take questions from anyone. [applause] [applause]
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>> it is of course a terrible truism that slavery was about making profit. but in the book, you suggest something much more nefarious, that he is consciously looking to engage and slave trading. when i saw that, when i saw that there was a counterintuitive because jefferson will was not generally regarded as a businessman. he died in debt and the one exception is it was documented he did indeed make a profit. one of the provinces no one has done, the economics. we have the league here in the audience who i am hoping will be
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the first person that adds it up and amazingly that has the best financial data of almost any individual in the 18th century. he has done the basic word of adding and subtracting and seeing exactly how his finances worked. i wants to really make this case that he is benefiting from slave breeding and doesn't want to do more of an economic study. what you need to have some charts to do that paperwork? >> it would certainly be better to have more data but i think that the strongest evidence we have is from jefferson himself, when not only did he urge his neighbor stanley to invest in negroes because of the appreciation in the value but he said twice later in life that the women who ring a child every two years are more important to
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me than laboring hands because what they bring is in addition to my capital. he said that twice later in his life. and i think it's actually perfectly clear that when the kosciusko request came along and he was handed $20,000 to free as many slaves as that money would buy, he could have freed two families, three families, his choice. he could have set the price that whatever he wanted to. he walked away from that money thing for two reasons. one is that half of that money would have gone to the slaves themselves because jefferson would have would have had to purchase land and equipment but also, the other thing is these people were important to the monticello machine but also it was their reproductive value. he was really very -- as i just said saying twice later in his life that the women bring me assets.
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he was not going to relinquish assets like that. partly because he wanted them for himself. i think he was quite deliberately piling up slave assets as a bulwark against the debts that would dissent on his family when he died and oddly enough, when he had the kosciusko money in front of him and he refused it, he was almost at the same time giving slaves a away to his grandson, thomas jefferson randolph so that jefferson could be set up properly in his own household. so owning slaves was an excellent way to transfer wealth between generations. as for jefferson's that come i i think that it's has been the problem has been greatly exaggerated and i think billy and i want speak for him but by the conversation we had, we agreed that jefferson was a genius. i have read substantial letters
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in the records. he was constantly refinancing its debt and was always able to find new sources of credit. billy found that he was a pioneer at the payday loan which is something i didn't know but i noticed, he was always refinancing and i said really i don't see debt restraining him anyway and billy said no he is a genius at it. keep in mind he -- he went to france and decided -- he fell in love with french architecture and came home and rebuild it. when he got tired of that he built another one outside of lynchburg and he spent money on a male and a canal at the bottom of the monticello mountain so dad never really restrain him from anything that he wanted to do. one of the historians who
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studied, steven hochman said that if jefferson had decided to make that reckless investment of $30,000 in the canal, he probably would have been able to ride out the financial storms of the early 19th century. in another analysis of the financial records, shows that jefferson, the slaves actually were very productive farmers and that in one of the worst decades of the american agricultural economy, jefferson actually lost very little money on his farming operations, and so the slaves were really holding their own when commodity prices were plunging and so i mean jefferson just kept spending. the nail in the coffin financially was when he cosigned alone for his in law wilson kerry nicholas in the 1820s. nicholas was speculating in kentucky land acquisitions and
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he needed someone to cosign a 20,000-dollar note in the talk jefferson into it. six months later he went bankrupt and that is when the letters from monticello came. >> we have to circulate. >> all right. i want to follow up on the wheel because that is something i've been interested in on all the research i've done and of course after reading jan lewis's review yesterday where she called your book a train wreck i thought maybe you would like to use this to elaborate a little more on that and explain to the office that jefferson was made the exact terror and however, where i'm confused is that with 18 months of kosciusko's death of his will was contested by three different parties, two of them in europe and one of them in the united states at that time.
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with that surfaced three subsequent wills that have been drawn up in europe and so i don't quite understand. jefferson predicted, this point he said this was really going to fall into a lot of litigation. he said i think it's going to go past my lifetime. he was right, so he resigned as executor and sure enough this litigation continued. at finally wound up in the supreme court. it was resolved in 1852 in favor of the polish defendant. this was 26 years after jefferson's death, but what i'm confused about is how did he ever have that money in front of him? the money was in the u.s. treasury in washington and he never had access to it. and after that then it was tied up in the courts. sallow how could he views the money to free the slaves and how did he have that option of know
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i'm going to back off of this. i don't want to free my slaves. i'm really confused as to how we ever had access to those funds? >> the will end it up in litigation because jefferson didn't act on it quickly enough. he had in his hand a letter from kosciusko saying that whatever you make from europe, my intention for my american farmers remains fixed, meaning that kosciusko, his intentions, he had that money used by mr. jefferson to free mr. jefferson slaves remained fixed. is mr. thomas jefferson walked into the admiral county courthouse carrying a letter from kosciusko the seventh i want to -- do you think the court is going to delay? only because jefferson did not press it. he did not want to press it. anything else? billy?
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>> john bonser was a merchant in philadelphia and income from investments for going into john barnes account in which jefferson helped signatory of attorney so $4000 at least one into that count and john barnes said why do you use this money for your own purposes and it comes out of kosciusko's money so he was using it as collateral in this very ingenious method of financial methods and that makes today's financial managers look like tigers. he was very skillful and that was one of the ways he got access to money. and there is a list of people and that is why he was able to live with the debt. >> did you see the letter written after jefferson's death when jeff randolph tried to revive her will? hero to the lawyer in new york who was apparently controlling the funds and he said, can we please revise this because i would like to give them a place.
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>> 1816 will then they gated the previous will and that was the decision of the supreme court so it's a really uphill legal battle to try to get -- >> in retrospect yes because jefferson didn't cut the legal system off of the past by pressing a well when he had a chance. >> it was contested almost immediately by kosciusko armstrong saying a portion of that is mind and so -- >> the european air is actually one. >> the european airs one, yes. >> i just got the book this morning so i've only read the intro but i was really interested in the passage that you quoted earlier about how jefferson had this plan in 1789
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that he wanted to turn his own monticello slaves into good citizens. i have studied him a bunch and i have never seen that passage before and the letter to edward and cropped. what he is talking about is he says he wants to bring an german immigrants as indentured servants and they will intermingle with the slaves and he said their children will be freed. i had always interpreted that as him kind of being racist saying slaves can't become citizens but in indentured germans can. are you suggesting that he was imagining the intermingling to be like intermarriage? >> no, no. but go ahead. >> so i mean the letter pretty clearly refers to the germans children that he is talking about. >> did you read the follow up commentary from rom short? >> i know in 1798, short makes
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all this is -- almost the same puzzle in short explicitly calls for inter-racial marriage and inter-racial children. it's the same type or proposal so it's a same type of thing but in jefferson's letter, i mean i've written about it. i can show you the letters but in this letter to bancroft he is definitely talking about the children of the germans. >> no, he's talking about the children of slaves. that is what he told thomas paine because here's later when jefferson was engineering the expansion of slavery into louisiana thomas paine wrote to him and said now is the time to revive the plan he talked about in paris. to send slaves into the louisiana territory to sign contracts with planters who will take them for a year or two and train them and then give them their own plot of land and then
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we will free them. he specifically referred to revising the plan that they discussed in paris. that is this plan. >> i mean this plan, you are talking about sending slaves to louisiana while the french still own it? this is 1789. >> no, no. >> this letter from 1789 can be about the louisiana purchase. >> what i meant was when jefferson was in paris and when he had discussed this the plan with edward bancroft he not only discussed it with william short but he discussed it with thomas paine because when the hour of decision came again about whether he would permit slavery and louisiana thomas paine reminded the president of what he had proposed in france, namely the bancroft letter to bring slaves and for a short amount of time, teach them proper modes of agriculture and then set them free.
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>> okay. >> it's very clear from the pain letter and i don't see jefferson encouraging the mingling with african-americans. he said i will settle and place them on a footing -- [inaudible] then he says they are inhabitants of property and i have no doubt they will be good citizens. so it's referring to the germans. >> we can argue this later. the antecedents are mixed up. >> you go to comparatively george washington but washington of course freed the slaves on his death. >> actually after 10 years of trying.
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>> you wrote about it in your last book, but no one of course took this issue on while they were president because it would be political suicide and in fact jefferson recognized at the end of his life that would not only be suicide but potential civil war with the missouri compromise which talks about -- and he recognizes that the great war of the country itself would not necessarily be in europe which would lead to fighting between regimes that could well be in this new nation fighting between slavery and independence. and jefferson does give his own reasons for not freeing his slaves. you are quite right, he never intended to free them even if he
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had not -- but he did argue that to do so would be civil war and the only solution would be a colonization scheme in which all of slaves would move to another region whether it be the caribbean in the west or back to africa and of course you could argue that was just self-justification but it's also a reason worth considering. i came at this very differently. i'm a caribbean scholar working on the british caribbean. these were some of the most brutal regimes anywhere and i was very aware that he never bothered with a moral issue of slavery and never discussed it before or during the american revolution. the only place it's really discusses here in america and
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only perceive the british abolition. to be opposed to slavery was not so remarkable is being a slave or shame throughout history, it was only in the west and only an 18th century that you have an evolution -- abolition movement and people actually questioning the morality of slavery. so to me jefferson was remarkable in that he actually questioned the system that had enough and city to realize that slaves freed would be so angry by the way they were treated that they might actually rebel. >> you know, jefferson was wrong because when they were freed, there was no general rebel in -- rebellion. jefferson throughout his life, he was an exaggerator and one of, the revolutionary war was --
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it was a bit of a shock to him because a number of slaves ran off and joined the british to get their freedom and he never forgive them for that. that overrode the loyalty that many more slaves had shown to the americans and overrode the fact that -- first of all i should mention george washington integrated the american army in 1775 throughout the war in washington's army and jefferson never once as governor offered freedom to any of his slaves who would fight for the american cause. but the disloyalty of a relatively small number of slaves during the perceived disloyalty, that looms large in jefferson's mind in the loyalty of all the other blacks black sea completely discounted. then he wrote this fantasy in the state of virginia that lack people could never have love of
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country because they have been held in slavery here. his own slaves, martin hemings, caesar and great george granger had risked their lives to save jefferson's life and property during the war. jefferson knew this very well and he was writing notes in the state of virginia. it didn't play into his calculations and anyway, i would bring up -- but that's going a little bit too far. >> how did you come to realize that part of this letter by thomas man randolph -- in the farm book of monticello that was edited in 1953. how could you find that piece? >> it is because like everybody else in the early 2000's, we still have a line on the 1950's
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edition of the farm but which contained a photographic facsimile of the actual ledger with 500 other pages of documents and letters about the management of the plantation. the letter that everybody cites says colonel randolph wright saying nobody is being quipped. at the end of it says.,.,.. then as the new addition of jefferson's papers have been coming out i made it a habit to look at each volume and look at all the letters having to do a slavery to see what was newly emerged. i also began moving backwards in the series and when i got to the volume that covered that year, 18 one, i was systematically reading every letter and i came to that letter and it had a line that i've never seen before. it was like this line had miraculously appeared. i thought, that wasn't there and i prepared the two and i ordered
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the original from massachusetts historical society. the original letter said nobody's being quipped except the small ones. which entirely reverses the meaning of the letter. and so, this is what people were prepared to do to protect mr. jefferson's reputation. anyway, to me that was a real turning point. the children were being whipped and jefferson was formed of it in there was no action to stop it. >> henry, your thesis is that jefferson is building a legacy in these slaves for his descendents. in his will he expresses three
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of the four most valuable slaves of monticello -- he frees culver, a butler and painter and he frees the master, john hemings. that's about one tenth of the value compared together 126 slaves. what do you make of that? >> sure, i will just repeat the question is i don't know but was picked up by the microphone. he asked the question, why didn't jefferson essentially freeze some of his most valuable slaves? >> two of the slaves he freed were his own children. as to why he freed the other three, i don't know. i don't know if he had made a
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prior promise to them. they were certainly very valuable servants to him. they were hemingses so they were related to him through his wife but i honestly cannot answer that question. i don't know how he chose him. >> thank you for the scholarship you have done to bring this new information forward that i'm interested in the psychology of jefferson and mr. o'shaughnessy was presenting us with what i think has been to my basic knowledge of jefferson up until now and that is a very, a thinker, great philosopher, a very religious in his own way man, spiritual and in seeing slavery but the big picture of history and how it might influence him. your work seems to have brought out a different psychological
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jefferson that we are not very familiar with and you know, do you see a split in him, that he compartmentalize his to the extent where he can be this philosophical thinker and see slavery as all the thing mr. o'shaughnessy has shown us and on the other hand, the other side of him, this business side which i think as a surprise to me. i am not a scholar or a historian, but that is the other part of jefferson that even he himself, maybe he was in denial about but he was good at it. >> well i don't see him as compartmentalize. that was the formulation and i just don't buy it. it's based in large measure on things that jefferson said about
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slavery. many of the statement that he made, some of his most ringing anti-slavery statements we think or almost issued as press releases from the white house or put on billboards or put in newspapers. these were private responses that he wrote from roughly 1790 until his death to various progressives and abolitionists who came to him, people like william kohl's and kosciusko and lafayette, begging him to do something to end slavery. he would put them on and he would say the time is not yet right. these people are too stupid. i mean the -- their minds to ripen that all of these excuses were privately written. and jefferson had a word or a phrase for this. he wrote to people to the abolitionists who were pestering him.
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he knew how to put them off. he was a master correspondent. many of these things that were quoted were not really meant for public consumption. they were just private letters. >> i just realized realize that time is running out. jefferson is of course a convenient shorthand for talking about problems in the existence of slavery in early america, that the rise of liberty by the system in which one fifth of the population were enslaved, the british naturally like to be morally superior during the revolutionary war. samuel johnson famously said in 1776, why didn't -- the slaves and they themselves had a slavery regime almost as large down in the british caribbean. is the subject of perennial interest and i'm grateful for
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you talking about this. the main purpose of these discussions is indeed to have debate and i hope we had a really good dialogue today and thank you very much. >> thank you. [applause] harvard professor randall kennedy in her best-selling book, the n word, the strange career of the troublesome word you write about violence by speech. what do youwo mean? >> well that is about the wordg nigger and is a word that has triggered lots of violence and it's a violent word in and ofs itself and what i wanted to do in and that book was to give a history of this word that has been covered with lead with
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blood literally and sometimes figuratively and wanted to show the way in which this word has wrought havoc in american culture. of course that is not all it does. one of the reasons why it was both worthy is because of the complicated word. it has a terrible history, a history of insult, history of terrorism, a history of intimidation, but of course it has been put to other uses, too. it's been made in an ironic and a term of endearment so the word nigger as a complicated word and has biomass space, but other aspects as well. ..
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more than a fifth-grade fifth grade education, born in south carolina and lived her entire life in south carolina. she was a seamstress. she was a domestic. she was a strong-willed lady who raised a slew of kids and sends most of them through college, and absolutely great person. i knew her for a good portion of my o life.le - she used a whole lot of different words. referre she referred to blackd people sometimes as colored people, but she also sometimes would use the infamous n word and who's exampd
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whose wisdom has been with me all my life. >> host: is it illegal to use the n-word? >> guest: generally speaking, no, although -- well, i take that back. if you use the n-word in an employment setting, for instance, if you or somebody supervisor and you refer to your work to a worker as a nigger, where you refer to black people as niggers, you may be in violation of the law by creating a hostile workplace and thereby make yourself subject to a liability under state law or new the civil rights law of 1966 -- 1964. so, under certain circumstances, you can do things which would make yourself -- which subjects
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yourself to legal liability, or another way. if you commit violence and in the indication of a -- the commission of a violent act refer to people using the n-word, you might be subject to hate law legislation, and thereby not only be prosecuted for assault or whatever violent act you have committed, but you might subject yourself to an enhanced penalty by running afoul of state hate laws. so, under certain circumstances, yeah, you would be in violation of the law. generally speaking, though, because of the strong shielding power of the first amendment, people, for instance, comedians or writers, can use the n-word and not have to fear the law,
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though you might have to fear a public opinion which itself can be a very powerful force. >> host: is that the near word versus citing word? >> host: the law of homicide, all sorts of different levels of homicide, and one big divide is between manslaughter and second degree murder. so, for manslaughter, the law gives you a little -- if you kill someone, but you can make the argument that you killed somebody in you were in the grip of passion. the classic example of manslaughter, you come home and you find your girlfriend or your wife in the arms of another, and you kill that person. you've committed a violent act, but the law will give you a
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little bit of a break because you were in the grip of passion, and the law says, we give you something of an excuse. not a full excuse but we recognize that you couldn't control yourself. well, there's some people who have made the argument that they were in the grip of passion because somebody called them the infamous n-word. they strike the person, maybe they kill the person. and the argument becomes, can you or can your lawyer make the arguement to a jury that you were in the grip of passion because this person called you this particular word. now, in some jurisdictions, like washington, dc, you cannot even make that argument. washington, dc, the jurisdiction that has the "just words" doctrine, and the law says no matter what the word, no matter what somebody calls you, that's no excuse for using violence. but other jurisdictions say,
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we'll let you make that argument to a jury. >> host: professor kennedy, you write in the n-word book, there's nothing necessarily wrong with a white person saying the n-word, just as there is nothing necessarily wrong with a black person saying it. what should matter is the context in which the word is spoken. the speaker's aims, effects, alternative, to condemn whites to use the n-word without regard to context is simply to make a fettish of the word. >> guest: yes. the best example to illustrate that point is mark mark twain'st novel, huckleberry finn. anythinger appears in that book over 200 times. i think huckleberry finn is a wonderful novel and its impulse is antiracist. antislavery, obviously over the years there have been many people who wanted the book
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banned or wanted to erase the word. i'm not for that. you have a white author, but he is using the term "nigger" for purposes that are clearly antiracist purposes. there are others. lenny bruce. lenny bruce was a great social sat -- satirist. he had a number of times when he used the word nigger, not to insult black people, but to turn the table on people who were antiblack in their feeling and he used the word nigger to laugh at them. using the word nigger as a mirror on race simple in order to combat racism.
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adore used the word anythinger in some of her short stories. she wasn't using it to be a racist. rather, she was using is as an artist to de-legitimate race simple. that's what i meant. obviously there are black people, too who have used the term nigger in ways that in my view, are completely unobjectionable. dick gregory titled his first autobiography, "nigger "an .. bicentennial nigger." >> host: when you wrote the book, it was published in 2002. what reaction did you